Egg spectations : Unscrambling common myths surrounding the egg

Egg , where would people be without the humble egg? It is the main part of many peoples’ diet, not only for breakfast, but also as a stand-in for a quick meal, a good source of protein, and as a core ingredient in all kinds of dishes. Yet for decades, eggs had a fairly unwholesome reputation. Thanks to its high cholesterol content, the egg was perceived as being “bad for you.” The years went by and many people turned their backs on eggs, ate only the whites, or chose to consume egg substitutes.

The Comeback

Long-vilified for their high cholesterol content by doctors researching heart disease, eggs now seem to be making a bit of a comeback. So what changed? It is true that just one large egg yolk has 200 mg of cholesterol, making it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol. However, research has shown that most of the cholesterol in our body is made by our liver – it doesn’t come from cholesterol we eat.

The liver is stimulated to make cholesterol primarily by ‘bad fat’ (saturated fat and trans-fat), in our diet, not dietary cholesterol. The moderate amount of fat in an egg, about 5 grams, is mostly ‘good fat’ (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat). A large egg contains little saturated fat – about 1.5 grams. Eggs also contain additional nutrients that may help lower the risk of heart disease.

The Research

Research carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health on moderate egg consumption :

In two large prospective cohort studies (nearly 40,000 men and over 80,000 women) found that up to one egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease risk in healthy individuals. Eggs were previously associated with heart disease risk as a result of their high cholesterol content. However, a solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet.

What’s more important is what you eat with your eggs. The saturated fat in butter, cheese, bacon, sausages, and bread, for example, raises your blood cholesterol much more than the cholesterol in your egg. And the highly refined ‘bad carbs’ in white toast and paranthas may also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Common Myths

1. Eating too many eggs will raise your cholesterol.

False. They raise your “good” cholesterol (HDL) which contributes to reducingyour “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Therefore overall, there is no need to worry about the effects of eggs on your cholesterol when consumed in moderation (one to two eggs per day).

2. You shouldn’t eat egg yolks!

False. Everything in moderation and the same goes for egg yolks. Egg yolks are a source of vitamin D which is essential for bone health and healthy fats which are required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

3. Eggs are good for your vision.

True. Eggs are a source of vitamin A which plays a key role in sight. Egg yolks contain an antioxidant called lutein which contributes to healthy vision.

4. Salmonella is found only in the yolks of raw eggs, so eating raw white eggs is safe!

 False. Salmonella bacteria are mostly found in egg yolk but even the egg whites can be contaminated. It is always advisable to not eat raw or even undercooked eggs.

5. Eggs need to be stored in the refrigerator.

True. Eggs should be stored at a temperature below 20°C. It is also not recommended storing boiled eggs for longer than 2 days.

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